So now we need masks to match our underwear? Kim Kardashian seems to think so
By Mao Shan Wang
I know masks are a must now. Although slowly available at retail again, surgical masks, despite being better than cloth ones, are not appealing enough that people are making their own, including those who fashion face coverings with brassieres. Of course, these days we are not averse to underwear not worn under. Still, it feels a little weird—even creepy—to want a bra cup to hug half the face. This may account for the persistence of Internet memes and jokes that josh at those who are partial to bra-masks.
Despite the joke potential of the source material for the Triumph-turn-face-covering, Kim Kardashian has introduced undie-looking masks for her shapewear brand Skims (formerly Kimono). I can understand the desire for a mask that matches a dress, but one that goes with undergarments or shapewear, that escapes me. It is not certain that these nondescript US-made masks are designed to go with the brand’s underwear, but the colours—five of them—are clearly chosen to pair with merchandise in corresponding shades sold by Skims.
But the aesthetics of the Skims masks isn’t the thing that’s got people talking about and reacting to the product. Rather, it is, like much of today’s culture, to do with colour. According to Netizens—an emotionally fragile bunch, Kim K and her brand are guilty of “casual racism” (as opposed to formal?). A black model wears a mask in a colour that’s a tad too light for her skin, while the ones on the others are apparently closer to their own skin tone. And online, people are not pleased. On the Skims website now, a different model is used, presumably a reaction to social media dismay.
Despite the negative reactions, these masks are sold out, within an hour of their launch a week ago (you can join a waitlist if you must own one). Obviously, the marketing images are not offensive enough, nor the colour-skin mismatch. These masks are stated as “non-medical”, which likely makes them a fashion item. On the website, they are categorised under ‘accessories’, symbolised by an illustration of a naked torso made slightly more modest by two pasties, and sold alongside waist trainers and body tapes.
It appears to me that Skims is exploiting what is believed to be a social necessity of the present and the near future. And to make them in the colour of (and to look like) underwear appear to trivialise the seriousness of a disease that has pervasively damaged lives. Unsurprisingly, people are scrambling for the masks of no protective nor creative value. For now, celebrity-linked anything continues to have the same attraction as schlock horror.